Carbon Shortage

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mstull

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Has anyone heard when carbon manufacturers are planning to catch up with orders? Aircraft Spruce says carbon cloth is back ordered indefinitely. Indefinitely is too akin to forever. Is it a shortage of fiber or weaving capacity? You would think the companies that make the fiber and weave the cloth would ramp up production to meet demand... unless the Dept. of Homeland Security is only allowing manufacturers to sell it to people they authorize. Maybe China will start exporting it.
 

Dust

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have you tried other suppliers, i would guess there is no shortage, just that AS&S probably does not sell much and does not like to keep it in stock
 

mstull

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Dust,

Aircraft Spruce sells thousands of yards of carbon cloth every year. There is a world wide shortage of carbon fibers. I spent the last couple hours searching for other suppliers. There are a few that have carbon cloth in stock, but I only want the real aerospace quality stuff, like Aircraft Spruce sells. I bought a 100 yard roll from Carb.com a long time ago. It was like burlap compared to the aerospace stuff. So I hesitate to buy thousands of dollars worth of cloth, and find out it's unsatisfactory.

The good stuff is in high demand for making stealthy cruise missiles and planes. I heard Boeing has some military orders that take priority over everybody.
 

mstull

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A couple companies claim to have good, commercial grade fabric, that is available in limited quantities from time to time. I found only one that has any in stock... a place called Solar, but it's $37.47 per yard in a 50" width. He says it's excellent quality fabric with good structurals, most often used for cosmetic purposes. He claims he's not really making anything on it. And it looks like the world wide shortage of carbon fibers will be worse next year. By the time Aircraft Spruce gets any, it could cost that much anyway.

Another place is expecting a few rolls of cloth in a few weeks, for $25 per yard. But I'd have to order it in advance, sight unseen, to get on the waiting list. I have the feeling it wouldn't be very good quality cloth.

I'm getting tired of waiting, but for making my spar, I need the best structural fabric I can get. You'd think the Chinese would jump in, and start making it.
 

Aviatrix

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So much for the carbon fiber cowling on my affordaplane. :)

Wonder how all the guys in tricked out Honda's are getting their carbon fiber hoods and wings. Different grade of fiber?
 

mstull

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I just ordered 40 yards of the $39 per yard stuff from Soller Composites. I'll let you know if it's any good when it gets here. They're still making carbon cloth as fast as ever, so commercial customers are still getting limited deliveries to meet their needs. They are filling the gap with different products that look like carbon, and/or using carbon only for the ply that is visible, on top of fiberglass. Distributors call this use "decorative".

I would recommend S-Glass for your cowl. It's not as expensive as carbon, but extremely tough. I use it a lot. It is super easy to lay up. Even on a layup that just has a few plys... if you hit it with a hammer, the hammer will just bounce back at you. It only takes a few plys to get a lot of strength, so it comes out quite light. The hammer would punch right through a carbon layup.

We used S-glass on the leading edges of a MiniMax U/L. The 1/16" plywood, the plans called for, wouldn't conform to the tight curve around the leading edge... even after soaking and steaming. So we replaced it with 1/64" plywood, with 3 plys of S-glass on top. You can pound on it real hard with your fist without damage. It should be excellent against bird strikes.
 

Aviatrix

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What I was considering was using fiberglass for my "structual" layers,
and providing the expoxies were compatible, or provided that I could use the same resin on all layers,
simply make the "visible" layer using carbon cloth, much like you mentioned above.

What I wanted for the "look" is that snazzy carbon fiber you see people putting in as dash replacements and motorcycle race cowlings. See pic.




I figured if a hood for a 97 civic is about $300, then using a top coat layer of carbon cloth won't be that expensive.

I'm painting the bird black, with yellow control surfaces. The fiber cowl will look pretty snazzy, although the wife has 2nd thoughts on the tiger teeth idea.

Since you are the resident (or what seems like one of the resident) carbon layup expert,
Any tips, pointers or news you wish to share would be VERY much appreciated.
 

mstull

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Epoxy resin works fine for layups with different reinforcement cloths. I prefer Jeffco Medium from Aircraft Spruce.

Your photo shows a plain weave cloth. It is the least attractive/decorative weave. Twill looks much better, with a 3 D look. They have hybrid fabrics that use carbon with kevlar, for a way dramatic look. Here's some photos of some different weaves: http://www.sollerpaddles.com/fabric.html
Availability of all these is hit or miss... mostly miss. Carbon that's heavier than 6 oz/sq.yd. can be hard to wet out. Kevlar over 2 oz is extremely hard to wet out, even working hard with a composite roller. Kevlar is in short supply too. For a decorative surface layer, you'll only need a light weight cloth.
 

orion

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Contrary to popular belief, graphite fabric can be just as tough if not tougher than any glass laminate. After all, graphite is commonly used in bullet proof clothing, as well within several forms of armor and armor plating. The key to achieving the toughness though is the selection and use of the right fiber type and a proper resin. The use of resins that exhibit brittle tendencies (extreme example are polyester based resins) will result in laminates that are not only brittle themselves, but also potentially susceptible to things like crack propegation. This then requires the proper selection of materials and the proper design of the laminate itself.

As far as achieving the "graphite" look, there are now available fiberglass fabrics that are dyed black. These fabrics are virtually indistiguishable from graphite after laminating. A local kayak manufacturer uses them to good advantage (and no, he does not advertise tham as graphite kayaks) in the fabrication of his products.

About a month ago I did a bit of calling around to my suppliers regarading the graphite supply - their response was "Get in line!" I did find a couple of aerospace rolls here and there but nothing in quantity and the sales were only by the roll, not by the yard. The lowest price was about $27 per yard based on 125 yards.

When one of my suppliers found out that I still have a virtually full roll of Style 282 he did offer me a pretty good price. I however have a couple of projects coming up so I'm going to greedily hoard the little bit I got.
 

Aviatrix

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Thanks for the info.

I'm not trying to go for anything terribly extravagant.

The pic was the best I could find for describing the "look" I'd like.

BTW that pic is "fake" carbon fiber tape so people can cover their interior peices in so much tape it negates the +10 HP "fart tube" muffler. :)

I do have to say, those samples you linked to are beautiful, especially the T300 Twill and H8
 

Dust

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ok, assume - a while back AS&S was short on chrome moly tube, did not know when they were going to get it. i went down to my local chrome moly/aluminum/SS aircraft alloy warehouse and they had everything in stock, by the mile. SOOOOOOOOOO, i just figured this was the same thing. Oh the guy that could not get the stuff was in the state of washington and i am near detroit MI.

i should know not to assume
 

Dust

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BTW - thanks for the heads up as i am going to need a little soon to make my Intake Manifold and will get it sooner rather than later
 

Dust

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No - don't mind at all

right now i am working on chrome moly engine mount, then it is on to 321 SS twin turbo exhaust

then i flip engine over and start on intake manifold

i am chronicling this exciting story on the canard forum i sponsor, i will post a link here when i start the IM
 

Dust

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parts is parts

later i'm planning on carbon fiber cowl and wheel pants

you keep us informed with pics please

cowl is a big job
 

Aviatrix

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Prolly won't be until after winter. I know the resins used have to be done at certain temp ranges.

I talked to my wife's uncle and he's thinking along the same lines I am. Build up a few layers of fiberglass and use carbon on the top layer.

I'm almost feeling hesitant about having tiger teeth airbrushed on the cowl. ;-)
 
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